- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2002

WILMINGTON, N.C. Michael Jordan's second Washington Wizards training camp has become a practice in patience.
Jordan has stayed true to his and coach Doug Collins' preseason plan of taking things slow and easy during workouts with the intention of pacing himself throughout the regular season. It's certainly a drastic change from a year ago, when he was still working hard to get in shape to prepare for the season.
"I'm itching I've got to be doing something [off the court] to keep my mind from focusing on getting out there and playing," Jordan said. "My attitude is I want to be in every drill but I really have to be very smart as to how I assess my involvement and look at the bigger picture.
"Last year I had to push myself to get back in basketball shape and kind of overdid it. I probably did overtime when I shouldn't have done overtime. Probably didn't listen to my body when I should have. This year, I've made a conscious effort to listen to my body and push when I feel I'm capable of pushing."
Jordan rarely has been seen pushing, pulling or in action at all during camp only those affiliated with the Wizards have seen Jordan in action on the Trask Coliseum court. (Jordan doesn't practice in the morning session, the last part of which is open to the media. The evening session is typically closed.) The team will play an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday that is open to the public, but Collins is leaving it up to Jordan if or how much he will play.
If Jordan doesn't play then and adheres to his plan not to play in any of the preseason games, there's a chance few people will have seen him in game action when the Wizards open the regular season Oct.30 at Toronto. Then again, Jordan and Collins reminded reporters, there is little question about what Jordan can do.
"I'd like to think over 15 years I know exactly what [other players] are learning and I can do the things like help defense, offense and things they're going through," Jordan said.
Still, Jordan knows there is significant difference between training camp practices and preseason games and regular-season games it's an adjustment in intensity that takes some getting used to.
The speculation and concern about Jordan's health is not quite what it was last year at this time, concern that continued through the regular season. But should it become a concern more specifically, should Jordan miss time with injuries he isn't worried about the state of the team.
"I think our team is strong enough that we're going to be OK even if I'm not on the basketball court," Jordan said. "I'm a firm believer in that, and physically I just have to go at my pace."
Jordan's mornings have consisted mainly of conditioning work with input from his trainer, Tim Grover, and the Wizards' training staff. Jordan then takes part in most or all of the evening sessions. He'll sometimes have ice packs wrapped around both knees, but it's really only for precautionary reasons.
Collins said he has pretty much left Jordan on his own, checking with him periodically but focusing mainly on the rest of the players on the roster and how they're faring.
"My whole focus is on getting these guys ready. Michael's working on his own to get himself ready," Collins said. " My whole focus can't be on how's Michael doing, because then we lose these guys out here. I think Michael knows that."
Jordan did not publicly address the man arrested last month who had obtained a bank account number of Jordan's. No.1 draft choice Jared Jeffries said he's feeling fine after falling hard and straining his left shoulder Friday. Bobby Simmons did not practice yesterday morning after sustaining a hip pointer Friday night.

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